It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when I did my first round of Author Takeover’s over on the CWP Facebook pages, that I haven’t really explained the lore for the vampires in my world. I like to play fast and loose with lore sometimes and I should probably explain that. I mean, it does get explained some in the book, but Blood Song doesn’t actually come out until July…that’s months from now. So, that’s what we’re going to do this World Building Friday. Explain Vampire Lore and why I played fast and loose with the mythos that everyone has grown to accept about vampires in fiction.
Let’s start with what is commonly accepted as vampire lore. There’s the no going out in sunlight or they burn; the avoidance of mirrors, and garlic; they have to be invited inside; that either a beheading or a stake through the heart will kill them; they do not age, their bodies are frozen where they are when they’re turned. That’s the most basic, and most of what I’ve made my own.
Let’s start with the ability to go out in sunlight. My vampires can, provided they meet very specific requirements. Vampires in the Arkane World are required to do two things to be able to freely roam around in the sunlight.
1. They must have had enough sleep. How much depends on the age of the vampire. The younger they are, the more sleep they need, which is why you rarely see Asher go without a night of sleep, where as Reid can stay up for days, not that he likes to.
2. They must get enough blood. Again, the proper amount is dependent upon their age. This time, the older they are, the more blood they need. Kind of the opposite, which is why you see Reid down at least two bottles of blood for every one that Asher drinks. Asher was turned at some point in the later fifties, Reid already had almost half a century on him at that point. The older the vampire, the more blood they need, it’s that simple.
Even when these two requirements are met, direct sunlight is slightly painful to vampires. Reid describes it to Penelope in the first book like this:
“Yes, we have to consume a certain amount of blood each day and get enough sleep to be able to go out in sunlight. Even then it still feels like you’re healing from a sunburn, though we have ways around that feeling.”– Reid Walker, Blood Song, Chapter Five
What he doesn’t mention, is that it’s like a really, really bad sunburn and you’re outside in a tank top, said sunburn once again exposed to the sun. If you’ve ever had a really bad sunburn, you know that being out in the sun afterward, even with it covered can be painful. Though, like he says, they have ways around that. Which leads me to my next point about the sun. A long time ago, someone figured out that wearing a piece of Lepidolite dampened that extreme sunburn feeling to something more like a bad sunburn, completely covered, on a cloudy day. It still hurts, but it’s a lot easier to ignore, or at least get used to. So, not that it’s always mentioned, but most of my vampires wear a piece of Lepidolite; Reid and Asher both have rings. Emma (because Dhamphir’s can feel it too, if not as acutely as their vampire counterparts) has a wide variety of Lepidolite jewelry so that she can wear it with anything, but her favorite is a necklace with a large chunk of it that’s been wrapped in cord.
[DISCLAIMER: Wearing Lepidolite DOES NOT actually negate the effects of sunlight. I took a stone, and altered it’s uses for my own purposes. I am not responsible for the wearing of Lepidolite as a form of protection against the sun.]
Now that we’ve talked about sunlight, let’s move on to mirrors, garlic, being invited inside, and Silver. One at a time though.
Garlic is easy: they aren’t repelled by it, instead it’s sort of a mild aphrodisiac. Why the misinformation floating around? They spread that themselves. Vampires could stand to be a little horny, but if being around Garlic proved they weren’t vampires back before they were known to humans, then that saved their ass and they were willing to deal with it.
Do vampires need to be invited inside private homes? While this is a matter debated within vampire lore itself and tends to vary from vampire story to vampire story, mine do not. Now, there are ways to keep the out, though you’d have to know where in the Arkane World to get such things, and most people do not. They’re difficult to make so those charms aren’t sold often and are usually created specifically for the person who needs it.
Mirrors: They can see themselves in mirrors just fine, thank you. This was another rumor that was started by vampires themselves, claiming that old silver backed mirrors made it so that they couldn’t see themselves. How much easier was it to prove that they weren’t vampires than to be able to say “Look, I can see my reflection, I cannot possibly be a vampire.” This, like the garlic rumor, and the rumor that they had to be invited inside, were all planted as a form of protection. Though that hasn’t been necessary as a mainstream idea for almost a century, it’s still common practice not to correct anyone either. Unless, like Penelope or Bailey, the people you tell can be trusted.
Silver is a little more complicated to explain, though not difficult to understand. Though it’s a hotly debated subject, in the Arkane World, Silver is bit of an issue for vampires (and werewolves too but for different reasons).
Let’s say that Penelope is wearing a silver necklace or a silver ring. It wouldn’t bother Reid a single bit. This is because a vampire can touch silver or be around silver without any harm to their person (another rumor like the ones before.) The problem occurs when Silver comes into contact with a vampire’s blood. In the third book, Flames and Feathers, there is a scene where Reid runs his finger along the edge of a Silver dagger to check how sharp it is. That feels a bit like a stinging burn rather than all out pain, but he can feel it because the dagger is quite sharp and does cut him just a bit, (which is what he wanted to do, don’t worry).
So, a recap: Silver against their skin – Not a problem.
Silver in contact with their blood – problem
Silver injected INTO their bloodstream – BIG problem.
So, now that we’ve discussed sunlight, mirrors, garlic, being invited inside, and Silver, let’s move on to their aging and bodily functions.
My vampires are immortal. That is a fact, though they can be killed and we’ll get to how a bit later. Right now I want to talk about how my vampires age and why they’re even able to create Damphir’s in the first place.
First, when my vampires’s are turned, it’s an issue with the blood and the way the body processes it. To become a vampire, you have to die with a significant amount of vampire blood in your system. Since vampire blood does tend to make one a tiny bit high, this is not a well known fact. It is one that they’ve managed to hold on to for a very long time. All anyone knows, for the most part, is that one must die with vampire blood in their system. The actual quantity is unknown, and that’s probably because the actual amount is dependent on the age and blood line of the vampire in question. This is usually explained to the vampire when they themselves are a new vampire and it’s knowledge they must have to successfully turn a human. There is no in between stages in my world, either it works, or it doesn’t.
A couple of things happen when a vampire turns, first, they’re in a half dead-half alive state (that they call Meditation) for an amount of time that can range from twelve hours to four days. This is dependent on a) how much vampire blood was in their system when they died; b) how much blood have they had before that incident; and c) how potent that particular blood line is. (Reid was in meditation for about eighteen hours. Asher took three days to wake up). How the transition takes place, really isn’t something you can study so no one is quite sure what happens, but while in meditation the human body changes how it processes blood, and other matter.
– Vampire’s have no smell; this must be applied. Usually with the use of cologne/perfume or something similar. Scented products are common and are often used now to create a false aroma to those around them.
– Vampire’s need a constant supply of human blood to keep their bodies performing similarly to a humans. They can cry, they bleed, they get thirsty, their hair grows, etc, but it all happens a little differently.
– a vampire’s sense of taste gradually fades until they cannot taste anything. Reid is 121 at the beginning of Blood Song and while he still has his sense of taste, it is no where near as acute as Asher’s, and their friend Shiloh’s has been completely gone for a long time. Because of this, Reid doesn’t care whether he drinks his blood warm or cold, it all tastes the same: sort of muted like he has a cold. It can take anywhere from 100 to 300 years for their sense of taste to completely disappear, and there is no rhyme or reason as to how long it will take or why that happens.
– A vampire’s hair does continue to grow, as long as they are sleeping and drinking the correct amount of blood. However, it is VERY VERY slow. Reid goes for a haircut maybe once ever twelve to eighteen months. Because of this, vampire’s don’t often make drastic changes to their look, as it will be a long time before they can change it again, this is also why very few of them grow facial hair. Imagine the few months where it looks weird and patchy taking the better part of a decade, no thank you.
– Vampire’s can eat. But usually only the young do. Older vampire’s usually find a way around not eating, but that usually goes back to the taste thing. It isn’t that they can’t, it’s just uncomfortable. Like everything else, that system of the body takes a long time to process anything besides blood. This is why vampires in the Arkane world are often seen drinking things that are not blood (liquids are easier to process), and occasionally eating.
This is all so a vampire can better blend in with humans and was essential prior to when their existence was revealed. Now, it’s not so difficult to get out of eating if they do not wish to. There are Arkane cafés that cater specifically to Elentori clientele like vampires. Most of those options have blood mixed in, as that acts as a digestive aid. While it’s not discussed, my vampires can get high, or use chemically reactive drugs. They are made in the Arkane world for this specific purpose, but like most street drugs in our world, they’re illegal and one would have to be able to track them down. With the rise in popularity of tattoos, the Arkane world came up with an answer to that as well. They have figured out how to tattoo a vampire and have it stay, which is a trick since my vampires heal quickly. (Think Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes super soldier quickly). There is an instance where Reid cuts his hand and minutes later it’s almost completely healed. It’s a thing that they enjoy, though most wish that their clothes would heal when they do.
Because my vampires are still human in a lot of aspects, the males are able to reproduce. Female vampire’s cannot get pregnant. That’s a huge body change that their body is no longer equipped to handle once they’ve transitioned. However, a male vampire, who is “healthy” can, as it doesn’t require their body to change at all. This is where Damphir’s come from. Their vampire parent is always their paternal line. That’s not to say that their mother doesn’t become a vampire after the fact, but prior to their birth, a Damphir’s mother is a human, or another Elentori race capable of childbirth.
I did not mess with the ways a vampire can die. They can be killed with a stake through the heart. They do die if you cut off their head, most things do. If too much silver is introduced into their bloodstream, that will kill them. The only thing that is usually accepted that won’t kill them is sunlight.
But what happens when a vampire doesn’t get enough blood or rest? Good question. Without enough blood or rest, vampires will start to whither. They will start looking gaunt and sallow. Their coloring will fade, and they will be extremely pale. The sun will eventually be a problem and they’ll start wanting to only be out at night, because it’s the only time they find any kind of relief. If they go long enough without enough blood and rest, the sun can kill them. HOWEVER it takes quite a bit of time for that to happen. The exact time frame, again, varies based on the vampire in question.
Well, that’s all I can think of that I’ve changed. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this and have a new understanding of how the vampires in the Arkane World are different from those that you’ve seen portrayed in media before. I told people I like to play fast and loose with what is typically considered to be the accepted lore. If you have any questions that you’d like me to answer about it, feel free to leave them in a comment below. For now, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow! Have a great weekend!